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Eco Blog – Repurposing: Junk to Jewels


Ever have the urge to make something but don’t have the expertise or time to start from scratch? Or are you like myself and hate to see perfectly good things left out on the curbside and labeled as “junk” or “trash” when they still have so much potential? Whether you are a hard-core “green team” individual or you just like to be creative, repurposing an old item is a fun and rewarding project to undertake and is easier than you may think.

Take wooden pallets for an example of something that anyone with little-to-no carpentry experience can make into something new. They are pretty easy to get ahold of if you ask the right people. Go to stores like Lowes or Home Depot and ask the manager if they have any pallets from their shipments that you could have. Or, if you tend to shy away from conversations of that sort, keep a sharp eye out while you drive. People who buy wood pellets for pellet stoves in bulk will often have them lying around and will be more than happy to let you take them off their hands. Now that you have these big bulky things, what to do with them? With a little sanding, a coat of paint, a set of wheels, and a cushion you can make a foot stool, pet bed, or outdoor recliner if you put several together. If you don’t want to bother with that much trouble, try placing one flat in your yard and fill it with potting soil for a contained flowerbed that needs less weeding than an open plot. This is great for beginning gardeners just getting the feel for the process, and younger family members who want a garden all their own but aren’t ready for the responsibility of a larger area yet.

One thing that I always love to do is scrapbook, and I know how expensive all that paper and decoration can be. A single sheet of background paper can cost up to a dollar or more! For one sheet! Don’t even get me started about those fun dimensional stickers and photo borders… But did you know that you can make your own colorful backing paper and backgrounds by simply painting cardstock with watercolors from the dollar store? Once it dries, you have tie-dye paper! All those cards you get for birthdays, to say “thank you”, or “hope you get well soon”? Save them and use the pictures, borders, and sayings for cards of your own as well as for your photo memories. I made a scrapbook for my boyfriend celebrating our anniversary last year using the “I’m broke but I want to make something meaningful and not like a kindergartner made it” attitude. So I got creative. I dug around our home office (what my mom and I call “our cave of wonders” because we always “wonder” where everything goes in there) and our outdoor storage shed and found a mish-mash of stickers, glitter, feathers, and cardstock from past craft excursions and spur of the moment Goodwill purchases. The real gem of my digging was a huge box of old cards my grandmother and mother had saved over the years. From them I got a variety of borders, pictures, and decorations that took my pages from “blah” to “ah!”

Now, I understand not everyone is as crafty and packrat-like as my mother and I, but you don’t need to be. Goodwill is your friend when it comes to odds and ends and the Dollar store is fantastic for basic supplies like glue dots (the best thing invented since the sticky note) and picture paper, because being cheap doesn’t mean it works any less sucessfully. Go outside for inspiration if you find yourself staring at a blank page for a half hour with nothing going on except, “what in the world am I doing?” Pick flowers or pick up fallen leaves to press in old phone books and dictionaries, or use long dried grasses to make bows or borders. Don’t limit it to what you see people do all the time; if you see something you like, find a way to use it or save it for something you might do later.

There are hundreds, probably even thousands of things you can recycle, refurbish, and repurpose. From turning flowerpots into gift baskets to using old doors as table tops, there’s something that everyone can do. Not only do you have a creative outlet and a use for all those odd ball things lying around your home, but you are helping the environment by reducing the amount of waste that goes into our landfills.

[box] Hello everyone! Thank you to all readers who made it all the way through my article to get to this, my introduction! I’m a new writer on the college scene and this blog is here to lay out my dabblings in the journalism arts for all of the community to peruse. I’m focusing mostly on what you could lump together as an environmental mish-mash of topics ranging from gardening and pet care, to “up-cyling” clothes and how to be a little kinder to the world we live in. I hope you all enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy my work. See you all soon! [/box]


1 Comment on "Eco Blog – Repurposing: Junk to Jewels"

  1. I love your ideas about uses for pallets. Repurposing is awesome, but I tend to shy away from things that require carpentry. I look forward to reading more from you.

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